Four of the 19 hospitals in Berlin with delivery rooms have pledged to add capacity and many are working to improve conditions for staff midwives after pregnant women were often left hunting for an available delivery room in the Hauptstadt at the last minute, according to a report in Berliner Zeitung.
In addition, Berlin will create a digital registry of openings in delivery rooms to prevent the fire department from bringing women in labor to clinics with no capacity, according to the report.
The steps came from a Friday roundtable of Berlin health officials trying to adapt to Berlin’s continuing baby boom. Last year, a record 42,618 children were born in Berlin, though only about 41,000 are reportedly expected to take their first breaths here this year.
“Together we will provide the necessary capacity for this growth,” SPD health minister Dilek Kolat was quoted by the paper.
In addition, 8 of the 19 hospitals also limit the number of women who can register early to give birth in their facilities to ensure those interested in giving birth there can, according to Berliner Zeitung.
Much of the problem was created by hospitals themselves. Clinics have slashed their ability to deliver babies to save cash — a Taz report said only 709 hospitals in Germany currently have delivery capacity, down from 1,186 in 1990.
The article also includes a first-hand report in German of a journalist having to search for a delivery room while in labor — Berlin hospitals suggested she try Potsdam or Bad-Saarow.
Midwives are reportedly also hesitant to work in hospitals because of the pressure placed on them, leaving hospitals lacking enough staff and exacerbating the problem.
Reimbursement for births is also seen as problematic by the Taz — insurers pay hospitals about €1,700 for a complication-free birth but they cost hospitals between €1,500 and €2,100, making cost-cutting imperative.